Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 18, 2005

Public should see contents of audit

During the last month, the Anne Arundel County School Board has used the Human Resources audit to explain its behavior castigating Superintendent Eric J. Smith.

It's time that the board make this report public and conduct a full and fair oversight hearing concerning its contents.

One thing is certain: Neither the board nor the press has accurately reported the scope and financial significance of the report's contents. The public now needs to determine for itself whether the report's contents is a reasonable explanation or merely a pretext for the board's behavior.

Specifically, I recommend the following action plan: 1.) The board should post the report on its Web site. 2.) The Citizens Advisory Committee should e-mail a link to the report to its members and form an independent committee, including CPAs, to publicly evaluate the report's omissions and implications. 3.) The board should conduct an oversight hearing to assess the financial costs of the parts of the audit that have yet to receive public attention, and determine when the practices described in it began (e.g., whether they began before the current superintendent's tenure) and who is responsible for the apparently endemic pattern of schoolbuilding-level financial negligence. Finally, the board needs to re-evaluate how it allocates its time.

In recent years, I have heard its members say they don't believe in "micromanaging" the school system. Fair enough. But in practice, this seems to mean no serious oversight; for example, conducting the type of public oversight hearings that are routine in Congress after a high-profile government failure such as Sept. 11 or Hurricane Katrina. The time has come for the board to demonstrate publicly that it is capable of such oversight - and it is the responsibility of the Citizens Advisory Committee and the press to ensure that, given the high political stakes now involved, such oversight is done honestly and fairly.

Jim Snider

Severna Park

Editor's note: The school board will hold a workshop on the Human Resources audit at 6 p.m. tomorrow at its Riva Road offices. The public is invited to attend, but no public testimony will be taken.

Gambrills can't handle horse park

While Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens' doubts about the level of infrastructure ring true about the Crownsville site, they are even more true with regard to the old Dairy Farm as a site for the Maryland Horse Park.

It is already impossible to make a left-hand turn safely from Gambrills Road onto Route 175. We are slated to be the recipients of employees relocated to the Odenton/Gambrills area because of the Base Realignment and Closure. The National Security Agency expects to add some 7,500 employees over the next few years. The Odenton Town Center has been given the go-ahead. Yet our schools, roads and housing stocks are overburdened even without this influx. To then add another large, growth-oriented project in this area under the above conditions is beyond short-sighted.

Congress passed legislation to keep the Naval Academy Dairy Farm "rural." So far, the descriptions of the horse park are anything but. While Horizon Dairy backed out of a 10-year lease after being bought out by a much larger concern, there is currently another organic dairy interested in the site that would like a long-term lease. Why not let this dairy have the lease and keep to the spirit of the congressional legislation?

Why is growth at all costs considered a good thing when it so often destroys the very quality of life that newcomers seek when coming to our area?

Matthew Whalen Gambrills

Annapolis best site for Md. Horse Park

Build the Maryland Horse Park in Annapolis. It's a more central location and has more infrastructure than Fair Hill [in Carroll County] ... and keep Fair Hill rural and unspoiled.

Lois E. Bennett Bowie

No county need for Owens' China trip

Imagine our concern upon learning that we are now paying for Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens and her friends to go on a vacation to China at the expense of us taxpayers! A female county executive thinks she is going to be received in China as a political dignitary ... let's get real.

She may fool the uneducated with her "economic" junket, but the educated know that Anne Arundel County gets most of its industry from defense and the bay. We don't need China for either one. In fact, you won't find China on the Defense Department's favored-nations list! This really reeks. I'll never vote for her again, and I'm spreading the word!

Joseph L. Walbeck

Pasadena

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